Many paddle controllers are plagued by jittery movement. This guide will help you clean your existing paddles so they will work like new in most cases. For particularly stubborn paddles you might want to replace the internal potentiometer altogether, here is the guide for Atari Paddle Repair (Pot Replacement).
The tools needed are:
- Screwdriver (philips)
- Small flat screwdriver (Or something to pry up small tabs with)
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Old Toothbrush or Q-tips
- First unscrew the 2 screws on the bottom of the paddle. Then remove the top knob and take out the pot by unscrewing the nut on the top side. Sometimes the black tab gets stuck in the knob, no big deal but either way make sure it is there because you need it to keep the knob on the pot. Take out the button as well and be sure not to lose anything.
- Next we need to open up the pot. Notice on the top there are 4 metal tabs. Bend the tabs up with the small screwdriver or prying tool. You should now be able to take apart the pot. The two pictures on the right are the internal parts we need to clean.
- Take an old toothbrush or Q-tip and dip it in rubbing alcohol. Then gently scrub the metal ring around the plastic handle. Be careful not to bend the tabs too much while doing this. Also if you are using a Q-tip make sure no cotton gets left behind on the 6 small metal prongs. Then do the same with the black ring on the other part. Before you finish you may want to slightly bend up the metal tabs to make sure they are making good contact. The picture on the right is before cleaning, notice how dirty the 6 metal prongs are. No wonder the paddles don't work properly.
- Now you are ready to put it back together. First put the plastic handle through the ring so that the metal plates are touching. Then put the metal bottom back on. Make sure that the opening in the metal bottom lines up with where the wires are. Finally the metal piece with the threads on top. At this point you need to make sure that the pot turns normally and has the full range of movement. If it doesn't then something isn't lined up right. After that you can bend the metal tabs back down with the needle nose pliers.
- Before you put everything back together you should plug it in and test them out. If they are still jittery you should probably go back and clean them some more. Otherwise you can put the pot back in the case and secure it with the nut. Then put the button back in and replace the cover and screw it on. Finally, put the black metal tab on the handle and then place the knob over it (unless the tab is still in the knob, in which case just put them both on the handle at once). After that you are good to go with a set of paddles that work like new!